Chlorine likely used in February attack in Idlib, Syria

OPCW inspectors collecting samples in Douma the scene of the chemical attack

While the OPCW didn't lay the blame with any one party, it said in a report released Tuesday that interviews with witnesses, the collection of environmental samples and the symptoms that patients exhibited in the aftermath allowed it to conclude that chlorine was dropped from two cylinders on the Saraqib area on February 4, 2018.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons announced on Wednesday that chlorine was "likely used as a chemical weapon" in an attack on a Syrian town in February.

Local sources said gas was believed to be chlorine and put the number of injured at nine, including three members of Syria's civil defence force White Helmets. The Syrian American Medical Society said its hospitals in Idlib treated 11 patients for suspected chlorine gas poisoning.

In a brief statement Ahmet Üzümcü, the head of OPCW, said: "I strongly condemn the use of toxic chemicals as weapons by anyone, for any reason, and in any circumstances. Such acts contradict the unequivocal prohibition against chemical weapons enshrined in the Chemical Weapons Convention".

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"These chemicals were detected in previous sarin attacks, Khan Sheikhoun, East Ghouta and no doubt Douma", Bretton-Gordon said.

The conclusions are based on the presence of two cylinders, which were determined as previously containing chlorine, witness testimony and environmental samples confirming "the unusual presence of chlorine", it said.

Douma probe ongoing: Another OPCW investigative team is now assessing evidence from the Syrian town of Douma to determine whether an April 7 attack that left 40 dead used chlorine and sarin gas. The French government is due to hold a ministerial-level conference in Paris on Friday to build an alliance of countries determined to reconstruct an accountability mechanism for chemical weapons use, if necessary outside the confines of the UN. The US, France and Britain claimed the regime of Bashar al Assad was behind the alleged attack on April 7 and a week later carried out airstrikes against what they considered to be government chemical weapons depots. Rebels also have been accused of using poison gas.

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